Sunday, 31 May 2009

NRI fights for voting rights

NRI fights for voting rights

By BEGENA P PRADEEP, Posted on » Sunday, May 31, 2009

BAHRAIN resident Sihas Babu is hoping to rewrite Indian law by winning the right for millions of people to vote.

The 35-year-old has already filed a landmark case in India against an act in the Indian Constitution, which does not allow Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to take part in national or state elections.

Although he is effectively waging a one-man campaign, any victory would be celebrated by Indian expatriates around the globe.

He filed a case in the Kerala High Court against India's Election Comm-ission, the Kerala State Government and Indian Central Government last Monday.

The Indian public can only vote in an election if they live in a constituency in India, while government employees posted abroad are the only expats who can vote.

Mr Babu, a manager at a building materials company, told the GDN he decided to file the case after flying home to vote in recent parliamentary elections, only to find his name had been taken off the electoral roll.

"The clauses in Section 19 and 20 of the Indian Constitution's R P (Representation of the People) Act, 1950, does not allow us NRIs any voting rights if we have been away from India for more than six months," he said.

"I went to Kerala on April 9 to take part in the parliamentary elections but was told that my name had been removed from the list of voters.

"The Election Commission's presiding officer will check with all constituencies if the person is a resident of that particular constituency - this is how my name was removed.

"However, I know of many NRIs whose names are still on the list just because they have the influence with different political parties.

"NRIs play such an important role in developing India and there is so much money coming into the country from Indians working abroad.

"But when it comes to choosing leaders and a government who will be responsible for making decisions affecting NRIs as well, we are nowhere in the picture.

"This is not at all acceptable and it's about time things changed.

"We should also have the right to choose our leaders.

"The government may argue that NRIs are not being allowed to vote to avoid malpractices of voting with a fake identity and double voting.

"But technology is so advanced these days that such practices can be caught or avoided."

Mr Babu claims to be the first person to file a case against the Indian government with a view to overhauling its domestic law.

The court has now given the state and central governments, as well as the Election Commission, a month to respond to the case.

"This law was drafted in 1950 and with changing times, necessary amendments should be made," said Mr Babu.

"I contacted leading Kerala High Court lawyer Kaleeswaran Raj and filed a case on May 25.

"If the concerned parties reject the petition, it is up to the court to pass the verdict of whether to change the clause or not.

"However, if the court rules against me, I will take the case to the Supreme Court of India."

Mr Babu has lived in Bahrain for around 15 years and is now hoping to drum up support for his case among Indian associations and clubs here.

More links to this news:

If you feel NRIs should have voting rights and support his move, please generate necessary momentum to this move. Mark your opinion (vote Yes/No) in the poll at the left side of this page.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

PG Dip in English for Communication at Kerala

PG Dip in English for Communication at Kerala

April 23: Applications have been invited for P G Diploma in English for Communication programme at University of Kerala. Those with degree are eligible to apply for this 8-month long part time course. Applications can be had from the Institute of English and will be accepted till 4th June. Entrance test will be held on 30th June 2009.

Certificate programme in Health & Sanitation at 'Kerala'

Certificate programme in Health & Sanitation at 'Kerala'

The Centre for Continuing Education and Extention has invited applications for Certificate programme in Health & Sanitation. Those who have passed SSLC are eligible to apply. The course duration is one month and the fees is Rs 1000. Apply before 28th May 2009. For more information call 0471-2302523

PG certificate programme in Criminology at 'Kerala'

PG certificate programme in Criminology at 'Kerala'

The Centre for Continuing Education and Extention has invited applications for PG Certificate programme in Criminology and Criminal Justice Administration. Graduates are eligible to apply. The course duration is six months and those with law degree will be given preference. Apply before 15th June 2009. For more information call 0471-2302523

M.Tech in Petroleum Engineering

M.Tech in Petroleum Engineering

May 24 : Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, School of Petroleum Technology has invited applications for M.Tech in Petroleum Engineering for the year 2009.

Those who have a B.Tech degree in Petroleum / Mechanical / Chemical / Electrical & Electronics / Instrumentation & Control Engineering with minimum 60% marks and having valid GATE Score are eligible to apply.

Download application form and other details from the website Application fee is Rs. 2000/- . Duly filled in application along with application fee in the form of DD infavour of Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University payable at Ahmedabad should send to the Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, School of Petroleum Technology, Raisan, Gandhinagar- 382007, Gujarat so as to reach on or before 31.5.2009.

Applicants will be short listed on the basis of GATE Score and final selection will be based on admission test and interview. Admitted students will be eligible to get Teaching Assistantship of Rs. 15000/- PM.

For more details visit Phone : 079 – 23275060.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Abu Dhabi successfully hosts DTAC 2009

Abu Dhabi successfully hosts DTAC 2009

Abu Dhabi, May 24, 2009: Abu Dhabi, the land of sunshine hosted a mega event; DTAC 2009 with the theme "Journey Towards Excellence" under the patronage of H.E. Sheikh. Nayhan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, for 3 days from 21st - 24th May 2009. The Toastmasters from GCC countries and Jordan (more than 700 delegates) participated in this event. The Toastmasters, is the forum that enhances communication and leadership skills. The strong arm of Toastmasters - Division H, Abu Dhabi an active member of NMC Community chapter, TM Praveen Rao, was the Chief-Sergeant of arms for all the three days carrying his slogan "JAI HO" (derived from Indian Movie Slumdog Millionaire). This MEGA annual event of Toastmasters was held in Abu Dhabi, hosted by Division H of Abu Dhabi with DR. Nasef Dhafari as the DTAC 2009 Chairman. The Qualifier Round Inauguration was held on 21st May at the Grand Hall of India Social and Cultural Centre, Abu Dhabi (ISC).

The qualifier round Inaugural Keynote Speech "Performance under pressure" was delivered by International speaker: Darren LaCroix. This was followed by Qualifier Rounds - Humorous Speech Contests, Table Topics Contests and International Speech Contests which were held at the ISC Mini Auditorium . Awards Ceremony was held in the evening for those who qualified for the final round.

Final session was held on 22nd May, at the Intercontinental Abu Dhabi. H.E. Sheikh Nayhan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research was the chief guest. His Excellency in his address to the DTAC 2009 audience disagreed that the communication and leadership skills are inherited. His Excellency said, that these could be built, developed or cultivated. Toastmasters is the testimony for it. The audience amply applauded.

The winner of Table Contest: Sujit Sukumaran, Div B.

Winning Moments



For more photos and detailed report, visit:

Sharjah airport add fun area on 11 year olds request

Saturday, 23 May 2009

UAE Girls Do It again in CBSE Exams

UAE Girls Do It again in CBSE Exams

DUBAI — Girls have once again outshone boys in the India’s Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Grade 12 examinations, bagging top positions in all three streams of Science, Humanities and Commerce.

The CBSE results for the Gulf region were announced on Friday.

According to the lists of their toppers received from 29 schools by Khaleej Times on Friday, Savithri Anju of St Joseph’s School, Abu Dhabi has emerged the topper in the Science stream with 96 per cent marks, Cutee Bhalla of Our Own English High School (OOEHS), Sharjah in the Commerce stream with 95.8 per cent and Rabiya Fahma of OOEHS, Dubai in Humanities with 91.4 per cent.

The region has also recorded an increase of the overall pass percentage of 0.63 over last year.

“I was expecting 90 per cent but this has truly been a pleasant surprise. My grades will help secure me a place at Warwick University in London for a course in management,” said Cutee Bhalla, Commerce topper.

Science topper Savithri Anju said good results are all about being prepared and not last-minute cramming. “These are hard-earned results. I studied regularly for this. Now I am preparing for an engineering entrance (exam),” she said in a telephonic conversation from India.

Principal of OOEHS, Sharjah, Dr Farooq Wasil said his student has always been an all rounder. “Cutee has not only been a bookworm but has also been exceptionally bright and a student leader. All this also boils down to good parenting,” he said.

This year, most of the top positions in the schools have been secured by 
girls. While the pass percentage of girls was 96.30, that of boys was 89.86 in the region.

The following are the toppers of schools:

St. Joseph’s School: Science — Savithri Anju topped with 96 per cent; Commerce— Michelle Mathew D’Souza has topped with 90 per cent.

Abu Dhabi Indian School: Science — Shrinil Viral Shah topped with 94.6 per cent followed by Sarim Hassan with 94 per cent’ and Commerce — Mannan Manoj Dhoot topped with 92.4 per cent followed by Emil Joseph and Madhav Somaia with 92 per cent each.

Indian Islahi Islamic School: Science — Mufeeda Moidu topped with 90 per cent followed by Arjun Manoj Sivaraman Nair with 88.8 per cent; and Commerce — Mekha Suresh topped with 89 per cent followed by Afrah Abdul Latheef with 85 per cent.

Asian International School, Ruwais: Science — Mohana Sundaram Adarsh topped with 87 per cent and Mary Minnet Fernandez secured the second position with 81.6 per cent; 
and Commerce — Nadia Ismail became the topper.

Sunrise English Private School: Science — Praveen Sojan topped with 89.8 per cent; and Commerce — Mehnaz Huda topped with 84.8 per cent.

Al-Ain Juniors School: Science — Thara Sivan topped with 85 per cent followed by Zubeda Mohiddin with 81 per cent.

Our Own English High School, Al-Ain: Science: — Sreyus Palliyani topped with 92.4 per cent followed by Mariam Firoz Ahmed Khan with 90.6 per cent; and Commerce —: Prakash Chowdhury topped with 88.2 per cent while Nikitha Mariam Jacob came second with 85.4 per cent.

Indian School Al Ain: Science: Joseph Noel Francis came first with 94 per cent and Johncy John second with 92.8 per cent; and Commerce — Eesha Rana topped with 93.4 per cent followed by Afra with 87.4 per cent.

Darul Huda Islamic School, Al Ain: Science — Naseema Rayin topped with 84.4 per cent and Muzammil Thottukanni followed with 83 per cent; and Commerce — Kamran topped with 80.4 per cent followed by Nasreen Bibi with 76.4 per cent.

The Millennium School: Science — Anagha Santosh topped with 87 per cent, and Commerce — Rabab Kazi topped with 85 per cent

Delhi Private School: 96 per cent of students secured first division and 73 per cent of students secured overall distinction. Science — Manas Jog topped with 90 per cent and Hashir Mohamed Sitheek with 89.2 per cent; and Commerce — Nikita Arora topped with 92.6 per cent and Shukla Chandni Tarun with 90.8 per cent.

Our Own High School, Al Warqa’a: Science — Adarsh Surendra Kumar Nair topped with 93.4 per cent followed by Mehfouz Jalal with 92.2 per cent; Commerce — Madangarli Abhijit Sunil Kumar topped with 89.4 per cent and Sinha Subhendra Roy came second with 89.2 per cent.

Our Own Indian School: Science — Anjali Murali topped with 91 per cent followed by Nikitha Pillai with 90 per cent; and Commerce — Amitha Thomas clinched the top position 
with 94.8 per cent and Heba Jaleel Parambath secured second position with 88 per cent.

Our Own English High School: 295 students appeared in the examinations. Science — Migita Michael D’Cruz topped with 95.4 per cent aggregate and Lakshmi Balasubramanium came second with 94.8 per cent; Commerce — Lipika Shivaprakash topped with 94.2 per cent followed by Juhi Chanchalani with 93.4 per cent; and Humanities — Rabiya Fahma secured 91.4 per cent, followed by Jenifer Gonsalves with 90.2 per cent.

Indian High School: Science — Yogesh Premcahnd Gajria topped with 94.4 per cent; Commerce — Pooja Anil Shah topper with 95.6 per cent; and Humanities: Sakina Juzer Lokhandwala topped with 90 per cent.

Emirates English Speaking School: Commerce — Hina Om Lokwani topped with 85.8 per cent followed by Maysoon Mohamad with 85.4 per cent; and Science — Nidhi Anand Anchan topped with 78.2 per cent followed by Ummel Khair Fatima with 77.8 per cent. Gulf Indian High School: The topper is Needa Aslam Qureshi with 92.2 per cent followed by Serene Marlyn George and Faheema Mubassara Ali Maid came second with 91.8 per cent

New Indian Model School: Science — Sreelekshmi Dinesan topped with 95.2 per cent followed by Nafia Basheer Moosa with 93.4 per cent; and Commerce: Nausheen Umarkutty and Sumayya Abdul Salam shared the first position with 90.2 per cent.

The Central School: Science — Nazia Nazar Hussain topped with 82.4 per cent; and Commerce — Shamim Ara topped with 81.2 per cent.

Gulf Asian School: Commerce — Sermeen Sultana topped among girls with 91.5 per cent, followed by Zahida Parveen with 88 per cent; Ashraf Hussain topped among boys scoring 89 per cent, followed by Shah Faizal with 84 per cent; Science — Shamsiya Fathima topped among girls with 79.5 per cent and Umme Sadiya got 75.5 per cent, and Mohammed Omer Riaz topped among boys with 83 per cent, followed by Arjun Jagdeesh with 79 per cent.

Shajah Indian School: Science — Swati J. Nair came first among girls with 95.6 per cent followed by Sandra Ann Jacob with 93.2 per cent;

Eapen Varughese P Philip with 94 per cent stood first among boys followed by Muhammed Nassif with 90.6 per cent; Commerce — Sumaiyya Arjumand with 86 per cent stood first among girls followed by Vinita Bhatia with 83.8 per cent; and Chirag Brij Sharma topped with 91.4 per cent among boys followed by Sunish Prasad with 86.4 per cent.

Delhi Private School: Science — Ramalingam Kailasham topped the school with 95.2 per cent followed by Anisha Kumar and Rajeev Gopi Kesavan with 94.4 per cent; Commerce — Kanav Minocha topped with 92.8 per cent and Abhishek Dugar secured 91.6 per cent.

Our Own English High School (Girls): Science — Fatima Khan topped with 94 per cent followed by Insiyah Yusuf Lakkadwala and Anjali Chandrasekharan with 93 per cent each; and Commerce — Cutee Bhalla topped with 95.8 per cent followed by Krishnasruthi Srivalsan with 94.8 per cent.

Our Own English High School Sharjah (Boys): Science — Shahin Nazer Mohiuddin is the school topper with 91.2 per cent followed by Rahil Abdul Rauf Parkar with 91 per cent; and Commerce — Abrar Rehmatullah Khamkar topped with 87.2 per cent followed by Husain Z Kalavadwala with 82.2 per cent.

Indian School Ajman: Commerce — Seersha S. Nambiar topped the school securing 91.8 per cent followed by Kalpana Sunder who secured 89.2 per cent; and Jayram Pandit topped the boys section securing 81.4 per cent followed by Dipanshu Karamsindhani with 77.2 per cent.

Indian School, Ras Al Khaimah: Science — Gaby Thomas Sam topped with 94 per cent followed by Nishitha Mohan with 91.6 per cent; Commerce — Freeda Christy Lobo topped with 91.8 per cent followed by Mohamed Aslam with 84.8 per cent.

Our Own English High School, Fujairah: Science — Beulah Sarah James topped the school with 93.4 per cent and Jaim Jac Jones topped the boys with 90.6 per cent followed by Shilpa Mary Cheriyan with 90 per cent; and Commerce — Rehan Ali came first with 88.4 per cent among girls and Shon Sunny George stood first among the boys with 85 per cent.

Scholars Indian School, Ras Al Khaimah: Science — Sharath Prasad topped with 90.4 per cent; and Commerce — Juwaria Fathima topped with 82.4 per cent

Indian Public High School, Ras Al Khaimah: Science - Kiran Subhash topped with 85.6 per cent; and Commerce: Roshini Jacob topped with 92 per cent.§ion=theuae&col=

Gulf Students Outshine their Indian Peers in School Examinations

Gulf Students Outshine their Indian Peers in School Examinations

DUBAI — Students in the Gulf have outperformed their Indian counterparts with a record of 93.23 pass percentage in the Grade XII examinations of the Central Board of Secondary
Education (CBSE). The CBSE announced the results for the Gulf region on Friday.

According to Indian media reports, the overall pass percentage in the region recorded a marginal increase of 0.63 per cent from last year. The overall pass percentage in India stands at 81 per cent with an increase of 0.09 per cent from last year.

Around 3,480 students from 40 schools appeared for their Grade XII examinations that commenced on March 2 from the UAE. Toppers in the country have recorded 96 per cent marks in Science, 95.6 per cent in Commerce and 91.4 per cent in Humanities.

“Students in the Gulf are getting much better. Schools here set high standards and benchmarks for students to achieve. There is always a conscious responsibility to drive performance with our teachers committing themselves to student enrichment,” said Dr Farooq Wasil, principal of Our Own English High School, Sharjah whose Cutee Bhalla became UAE topper in the Commerce stream.

“We have surpassed our previous results with girls emerging as top scorers,” said Ashok Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, Indian High School (IHS) Dubai. —§ion=theuae&col=

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Web survey to gauge schools in Abu Dhabi

Web survey to gauge schools in Abu Dhabi

Jen Gerson, THE NATIONAL Last Updated: May 20. 2009

Education officials announced an online questionnaire yesterday allowing parents to comment on their children’s schools.

“This is the first step towards the instillation of the culture of transparency between the school, the home and Abu Dhabi Education Council,” said Mughair Khamees al Khabeeli, the general director of Adec, which is conducting the survey.

“The questionnaire covers all the aspects of the education paradigm in Abu Dhabi schools.”

The site asks parents whether the questionnaire should be offered permanently and what makes them satisfied with their school’s performance.

“Based on optional answers, the questionnaire covers such aspects as the school environment, curricula, administrative and teaching staff performance, communication between parents and schools, equipment and amenities,” Mr al Khabeeli said. The results of a similar survey were released this month.

Adec said 70 per cent of parents were satisfied with the schools. That survey queried almost 5,000 parents, who were asked to grade a variety of factors.

The results of a similar survey of Dubai parents were recently released by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority.

The questionnaire can be found at, according to the state news agency WAM.

To participate in the survey, visit:

Comments: The survey is very detailed and there are options to include the name of school and your own telephone number and email to get the result of this survey. It is therefore advisable to participate in this TQM opportunity provided by Abu Dhabi Education Council.

Nominations for UAE Appreciation Award for Science, Arts and Literature Begin

Nominations for UAE Appreciation Award for Science, Arts and Literature Begin

DUBAI — The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development on Wednesday announced the launch of the fourth session of the UAE Appreciation Award for Science, Arts
and Literature.

Bilal Al Budur, Executive Director for Culture and the Arts at the ministry, said the award’s objective is to stimulate the intellectual, cultural and creative people in the UAE, to highlight and honour them and motivate the younger generations to improve
knowledge of science.

In its fourth session, the award this year consists of five key areas: science (Electronic Engineering), literature (Al Faseeh poetry), field studies and research (Management Studies), field of plastic arts (Spatial Configuration), and field of performing arts (Directing). August 31 will be the deadline for accepting nominations, and the names of the winners will be announced in December to coincide with the UAE National Day celebrations§ion=theuae&col=

Safety in the Heat Plan Launched

‘Safety in the Heat’ Plan Launched
Olivia Olarte 21 May 2009 KHALEEJ TIMES

ABU DHABI — A comprehensive safety regime programme aimed at creating awareness and enhancing health and safety of workers who are exposed to high temperatures and humidity during the summer months was launched in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

The ‘Safety in the Heat’ programme, launched by the Heath Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD) in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour (MoL) for the first time in the UAE, targets those who work in the construction, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and heavy industry sectors.

“HAAD and MoL are strongly supporting this programme and want to see this rollout and implemented to as many companies in Abu Dhabi as possible. Companies and organisations from other emirates and countries in the region are welcome to participate in the programme,” Dr Jens Thomsen, Section Head, Occupational and Environmental Health at HAAD, told company representatives at the launch.

The programme will support employers through offering a comprehensive package of educational and awareness materials in English, Arabic, Hindi, Urdu and Malayalam. It focuses on the prevention of heat-related illnesses such as rash, cramps, exhaustion and heat stroke caused by exposure to the hot environment.

The ‘Safety in the Heat’ recommendations are validated by HAAD and are applicable to workers in Abu Dhabi and the GCC region.

The programme has been developed following a two-year scientific research by the UAE University and Curtin University of Technology in Australia, sponsored by HAAD and participated by select companies in Abu Dhabi 
and Dubai.

A few hundred workers were engaged in these studies which include monitoring the workers’ heart rate for three continuous days, measuring their hydration status, recording of workers’ core temperature throughout the work shift and documenting environmental conditions.

“We found that the hydration status of the workers when they come to work is generally poor, and they tend to stay that way during the day... there is a lack of general awareness among employers and workers on how to prevent heat illness,” said Dr Graham Bates, Medical Physiologist from Curtin University of Technology.

The heat management programme also introduces a new heat stress index called Thermal Work Limit (TWL), which was developed by Dr Bates. TWL monitors all environmental factors such as the dry bulb, radiant heat, wind speed and humidity to assess working conditions and determine the thermal risk to the employee.

In addition to the protection of workers, the programme is also aimed at improving productivity of companies and reduce the time loss due to injuries by workers, said Dr Bates.§ion=theuae&col=

Saturday, 16 May 2009

SAARC UAE Exchange Xpress Money Cup 2009 at Sheikh Zayed Stadium Abu Dhabi

SAARC UAE Exchange Xpress Money Cup 2009 at Sheikh Zayed Stadium Abu Dhabi
Indian Ambassador's XI lift SAARC UAE Exchange Xpress Money Cup 2009 at Sheikh Zayed Stadium Abu Dhabi.

In the exciting finals, in which Pakistan Ambassador's XI batted first, they scored 166 runs in the alloted 15 overs. Kashif Butt, who was consistant throughout this tournament scored 39 runs and Razik Khan scored 55 in quick time. For India XI, Jayaprakash was the pick of the bowlers and returned with match figures of 2-24. It was Naeemuddin's turn then for Indian Ambassador's XI with some hard hits over the fence for his 61 not out. His overall performance with bat and ball earned him the Man of the Match award and India XI reached the target easily with 3 balls remaining.

A few interesting moments from the evening.

Kapil Dev enjoying the match with Indian Ambassadro HE Talmiz Ahmed
Padmashri Dr. B. R. Shetty enjoying the match with Ambassador of Sri Lanka
Oppana - a dance programme by children held between the matches.

Gujarati dance programme by children held between the matches.

Sri Lankan dance programme by children held between the matches.

Finals between Indian Ambassador's XI and Pakistan Ambassador's XI in progress.

Finals between Indian Ambassador's XI and Pakistan Ambassador's XI in progress - a wicket falls and a moment of success.

Finals between Indian Ambassador's XI and Pakistan Ambassador's XI in progress.

Marvan Attappattu - ex-Sri Lankan Captain posing for a photo with a fan.
Kapil Dev signing autograph's for student's who came in plenty to watch the match.
Result: Indian Ambassador's XI beat Pakistan Ambassador's XI in a thrilling final.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Lifts to carry pedestrians to safety

Lifts to carry pedestrians to safety
May 14. 2009 THE NATIONAL

Traffic passing the mall is heavy because lorries and cars have been diverted to the road by construction on Salam Street. Sammy Dallal / The National
ABU DHABI // Lifts will be installed on the footbridge in front of Abu Dhabi Mall, and the traffic signal removed, in an attempt to stop pedestrians making dangerous crossings at the spot, a city official said yesterday.

Khaled al Junaibi, project manager for the Salam Street underpass project, said the lifts had been ordered and should be installed by the end of the summer at the bridge on the street that runs in front of the mall.

Pedestrians going to or from the mall often walk and run across five lanes of one-way traffic at a signal crossing designated for “handicapped only” rather than use the footbridge just steps away. Many of them cross the street against the light during breaks in traffic rather than wait for a “walk” signal.

Mr al Junaibi said city planners did not want people to cross at street level in front of the mall.

“When they cross the road we are forced to give less time for the traffic. If we give less time for this traffic, it will be backed up.”

The one-way traffic has been divided by bollards, leaving three lanes for vehicles going towards Al Meena Road and the Corniche and two lanes for local traffic, going to sites such as the mall or the Beach Rotana hotel.

Traffic passing the mall is particularly heavy at present because lorries and cars have been diverted on to the road by construction on Salam Street.

Some pedestrians make it only as far as the bollards and then wait as vehicles drive by within touching distance on either side of the pedestrians.

“We know about this issue,” Mr al Junaibi said. “We have ordered some elevators, and by the end of the summer they are supposed to be fixed.”

The crossing and signal were meant to be used by the disabled and the elderly who could not use the bridge, Mr al Junaibi said.

At about 5pm on one recent weekday, large groups of pedestrians crossed at street level with just a few opting to climb the flights of stairs to the bridge.

The traffic showed red against traffic for about 50 seconds to allow pedestrians to cross. Some impatient people crossed illegally, and many were forced to run. Motorists could be seen slowing down. The driver of a silver taxi slammed on his brakes and screeched to a halt to avoid hitting a young boy.

Kailash Tiwari, a road safety specialist with 30 years of experience as a traffic engineer, said the municipality was right to encourage people to use the footbridges. But he said a pedestrian-controlled signal should be installed at the crossing to give priority to the disabled and elderly who need to use it.

Mr al Junaibi said planners try to have pedestrian crossings at street level where possible. “It’s an equation we have to manage between the traffic and the pedestrian. It is OK for them to cross at certain locations, but we don’t want them to affect the quality of the traffic.”

He said staff at the traffic centre at Abu Dhabi Municipality were able to monitor the timing of the signal and adjust it if necessary. He added that lifts might be installed at other temporary footbridges.

Last month Col Gaith al Zaabi, the director of the Ministry of Interior’s traffic department, called on municipalities to install lifts at footbridges. He also said municipalities should add control systems for pedestrians in front of crossings with traffic lights and do more to deter jaywalkers, such as ensuring broken construction barriers are fixed promptly.

Twenty-six people were killed crossing roads in Abu Dhabi in the first 71 days of this year.

With few mid-block crossings in the capital, pedestrians have a choice of walking sometimes a kilometre between traffic signals or dashing across the road during breaks in traffic. Motorists rarely slow down for them.

Several pedestrians yesterday said they chose to cross at street level near the mall because it was easier than climbing the footbridge.

Hamed Ali Ahmed, 22, who works at the mall, said he sometimes used the bridge, but that when he was in a hurry to get to work he would cross at street level.

Leigh Bracken, 36, from Australia, who works for Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, said he found it quicker to cross on the street but he would do so only if he felt there was enough time to get across all the lanes. He worried that someone would be struck while waiting to cross in the middle of the road.
Report by Matthew Chung, Photo by Sammy Dalal THE NATIONAL

I sincerely thank THE NATIONAL for listening and highlighting the safety issue and following it up with the concerned authorities. Look forward with excitement to the new state-of-the-art facility to carry pedestrian across the road in the city centre. At the same time, I keep my fingers crossed that no untoward incidents happen and no life is lost till the time this is implemented.

Dubai taxis hail plan to limit speed

Dubai taxis hail plan to limit speed
Eugene Harnan for THE NATIONAL

Last Updated: May 15. 2009 2:56PM UAE / May 15. 2009 10:56AM GMT DUBAI // Taxis roaring along the city’s roads at high speeds may soon be a thing of the past as devices that prevent them from going faster than 100kph have been installed in 200 of the vehicles.

By the beginning of next month, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) will assess the results and consider placing the speed limiters in every taxi in Dubai.

The move follows a similar initiative in Abu Dhabi, where devices limit the capital’s silver taxis to 120kph.

“We need drivers to change their attitude to speed and reduce it,” said Ahmed Mohammed al Hammadi, director of resources and support at the RTA’s Dubai Taxi Corporation.

The initiative is expected to cut emissions and fuel consumption as well as speed.

“We need to save our environment and this machine can measure the carbon dioxide emissions output of the engine,” Mr al Hammadi said.

The Dubai Taxi Corporation has 3,500 cars in its fleet and if the trial goes well, they will all get the speed limiters.

Taxis belonging to other franchises will also be fitted with the new device, bringing the number of vehicles with it to more than 6,000.

Currently, there is a system that notifies head office if a driver is speeding and a penalty is automatically issued. But under the new system, they will be restricted to speeds below the national limit. Some parts of Dubai have speed limits of 120kph, but the engines will be fixed not to break the 100kph barrier, irrespective of the restrictions on the road.

“We have done the studies on where our fleet is going and at what time of the day, either at peak or off-peak times and found we don’t need to open the limit more than 100kph,” said Mr al Hammadi.

Only cars that leave the emirate regularly, for example airport taxis that travel to Al Ain or Abu Dhabi, will be permitted to go at a higher speed.

Taxi drivers backed the limiters yesterday. “It’s a good idea. There are no more worries for speed cameras if I am tempted to break the speed limit,” said Yaal Shah, from Pakistan.

“The only problem is when I drive a customer to Jebel Ali or the airport along Sheikh Zayed Road and they are late, they ask why I am only doing 100kph,” he added.

Mr Yaal said he had been given only two speeding fines in his 12 years as a taxi driver in Dubai.

“It’s not a problem in the city as you don’t go any faster than that, but when I’m out on Emirates Road, I can see it as a nuisance.” Govendam Sanana from India said he very rarely broke the limit so the new move did not affect him.

“When I am on my own in the car, it is OK to go a bit faster but if I have a family with children or even tourists, I do not want to frighten them,” he said. “There are enough crazy drivers on the road and I try to keep them calm when I drive by going at a safe speed. A normal speed is better for everybody’s health, but there are a lot of crazy drivers out there.”

Adil Sadak, from India, said the power of his car, a Toyota Camry 2L, was sometimes too tempting.

“I know when I am on my own on a big, open, empty road I would like to get to the other end of it quicker. We have a problem with speed cameras so if we do not know the road, we will not do it,” he said.

In Abu Dhabi, all seven firms operating the newer silver taxis have had to fit their cars with speed limiters that restrict cars from exceeding 120kph. Gold and white taxis, which are being slowly phased out, are exempt.

The limiter is a small device attached to the engine and controlled through a monitor inside the car. It works by limiting the flow of fuel to the engine when 116kph is reached, causing the car to level out at 120kph.

Drivers can override the system for 10 seconds by pressing a button near the car radio controls or on the gear shift, allowing them to accelerate when they need to.

Drivers could in theory hit the button continuously, but the companies can track the number of times it is pressed and could reprimand those who overuse it.

I sincerely thank the DUBAI RTA authorities for listening to this quality suggestion of mine to introduce speed limiters on vehicles. They were willing to listen and also kind enough to call and inform back about the test phase which is on currently. I hope this will be a success and will gradually implemented on to medium vehicles, mini vans, heavy vehicles, espcially buses carrying school children and workers and even government public transport buses.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

No News edition 17 - Crossing the Barriers

Dear Friends,
Enjoy reading the No News 17th edition - Crossing the Barriers.
God Bless and have a great week ahead,
Ramesh Menon
Abu Dhabi

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